The two-star Air Force general who called it "treason" for airmen to tell Congress about their support for the A-10 Thunderbolt has been relieved of his command and reprimanded, the Air Force said Friday.

Maj. Gen. James Post, the vice commander of Air Combat Command (ACC), lost his job and received a letter of reprimand from Gen. Herbert  J. "Hawk" Carlisle, the ACC commander. It was not immediately clear whether Post would receive another assignment or he would retire.

"Gen. Post understands the impact of his actions and has expressed his sincere regret to me, a regret he extends to all Airmen," Carlisle said in an ACC statement.

In January, Post, an F-16 pilot and 32-year Air Force veteran, told officers at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., that they would be "committing treason" if they advocated to Congress on behalf of the A-10.

The Air Force has recommended retiring the A-10 because of budgeting restraints although Congress has not signed off on the proposal. Air Force leaders have said the service cannot afford to fund single mission aircraft like the A-10 and need to direct funding and resources to the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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A subsequent Air Force Inspector General's report found that Post's "choice of words had the effect of attempting to prevent some members from lawfully communicating with Congress, which is a violation of the U.S. Code and DoD Directives, whether that was his intention or not."

An airman notified the Air Force Inspector General about Post's comments after reading them in a Jan. 16 article in DoDBuzz, according to the report.

In a statement that was part of the ACC release, Post said: "The objective of my comment was simply meant to focus the attention of the audience on working within the command's constraints."

"It was sincerely never my intention to discourage anyone's access to their elected officials. I now understand how my poor choice of words may have led a few attendees to draw this conclusion and I offer my humble apology for causing any undue strain on the command and its mission," Post said.

Post's comments came amid an ongoing debate between Congress and the Air Force on whether to retain the A-10s. Advocates in Congress, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., have argued that the A-10 remains the best ground support aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

"I hope this unfortunate incident will eliminate any doubt regarding the legal right of a service member to lawfully communicate with Congress about the A-10 or any other issue of concern," Ayotte said in a statement.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com